Defence (Amendment) Bill 2006 [Seanad]: Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am pleased to bring this Bill before the House. This is a short Bill, which is designed to amend and update the Defence Acts regarding the despatch of members of the Permanent Defence Force on overseas duties. However, it is also an important Bill. The despatch of members of the Defence Forces overseas is a concrete expression of Ireland's foreign policy objectives, in particular, our support for the United Nations and for multilateral arrangements relating to the preservation of international peace and security, and Ireland's commitment to meet its international obligations in that regard.

Ireland has been, and remains, a staunch supporter of the UN and of the primacy of the Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security. We take very seriously our obligation under the charter to make armed forces, assistance and facilities available to the Security Council to contribute to international peace support operations. Ireland joined the United Nations on 14 December 1955 and it celebrated its 50th anniversary of membership last year. Over those 50 years, Ireland's support for the United Nations has been unwavering. Ireland's affirmation and support for the UN is based on Article 29 of the Constitution, which states that Ireland is devoted to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation among nations, founded on international justice and morality. This belief in the peaceful settlement of international disputes and the principles of international law has been the stated policy of successive Governments, not just since 1955, but since the foundation of the State.

The Bill provides for amendments to the definition of "International United Nations Force", together with provisions for overseas training and exercises by the Permanent Defence Force, humanitarian operations and a number of avoidance of doubt provisions concerning existing duties undertaken by the Defence Forces outside the State.

The Defence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1960 and the Defence (Amendment) Act 1993 provided for the despatch of members of the Permanent Defence Force outside the State as part of an international United Nations force. However, members of the Permanent Defence Force have also been despatched for many other reasons, including carrying out official duties, undergoing training and representing the Defence Forces at sporting events. This Bill will provide for such deployments, with the approval and under the authority of the Government, particularly the Minister for Defence.

The Bill also provides that members of the Permanent Defence Force may be despatched overseas to undertake military exercises, which represents a change in the standing training regime for the Defence Forces. In addition, under this Bill for the first time the Government will have the authority to despatch members of the Defence Forces to undertake humanitarian tasks in response to a disaster or emergency.

Section 1 provides a definition of "international organisation" which, in conjunction with section 3(1), covers the assignment of personnel of the Permanent Defence Force to appointments in specified international organisations, such as the United Nations, the EU and OSCE together with other regional organisations involved in UN peacekeeping operations such as NATO and the African Union. The Bill will formalise arrangements in respect of existing military representatives in the United Nations, the EU and the OSCE. It will also allow for existing appointments in the PfP liaison office in NATO where members of the Permanent Defence Force are currently deployed in Ireland's representative office.

Section 1 also amends the definition of "International United Nations Force", as provided for in the 1960 and 1993 Acts, to reflect the changes in the organisation and structure of forces deployed on peace support operations under a United Nations mandate, in particular, the use of regional organisations to provide forces for peace support operations. The definition also reflects the variations in the language used in UN Security Council resolutions, such that the Permanent Defence Force will not be precluded from participating in a UN peace support operation solely on the basis of specific language used in a resolution. Currently, members of the Permanent Defence Force may only participate in missions established or authorised by the UN Security Council. The terms in the definition — for example the inclusion of the terms "endorsed" and "supported" — correspond with language that has generally been used in previous UN Security Council resolutions.

Section 2 applies the new definition of "International United Nations Force" to certain provisions of the 1960 Act, in particular, the authority to despatch contingents of the Permanent Defence Force on overseas operations subject to UN authorisation and the approval of Dáil Éireann, as appropriate. It also applies the new definition to technical provisions in the 1960 Act concerning transfers, service, courts martial and the registration of births and deaths.

Section 3 provides for the despatch on overseas service of members or contingents of the Permanent Defence Force on a range of assignments, including carrying out representational duties, filling staff postings, going on training courses, ceremonial duties, visits, meetings, sporting events and fact-finding missions outside the State, as they have always done. Some of these duties have been part of Permanent Defence Force operations since the foundation of the State.

Two provisions in section 3 require specific mention, namely, participation in exercises which will include field exercises and is an extension of the existing training regime, and deployment on humanitarian tasks. It is important to the ongoing training of the Defence Forces that they can undertake training overseas and learn from best practice in other countries. This training is essential to the development and maintenance of high standards in the military and our existing peace support operations, where we work alongside many other armies.

We cannot continue with the current situation where our first joint training is when we are on the ground in a live and potentially dangerous environment. In certain situations, we will need to engage in joint training with other countries with whom we will be deployed in multinational forces on peace support operations, blue hat or otherwise, so we can operate from the outset as an effective and cohesive force.

As a matter of course, there is no UN Security Council resolution for humanitarian operations in response to disasters since they do not generally represent a threat to international peace and security. It is vital the Government can respond to legitimate and urgent requests for humanitarian relief by affected states in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, including being able to provide resources and equipment which may only be available from military means, such as temporary accommodation, tents, water treatment plants, generators, lifting equipment and other capabilities. Under the current arrangements, the Government has no authority in this area and Defence Forces personnel must volunteer for service with a civil undertaking, such as an NGO, in the same manner as any ordinary citizen, whereupon the NGO would then deploy them to the disaster area. The provision in this Bill provides the requisite authority for the Government to despatch members or contingents of the Permanent Defence Force on humanitarian operations.

Section 4 provides that all existing serving members of the Permanent Defence Force will be liable for service overseas on UN operations and for duties provided for in section 3 of the Bill. The 1960 and 1993 Defence Acts provided that only persons enlisting after the date of enactment of those Acts could be required to serve as part of an international United Nations force. The provision in the 1960 Act is now obsolete as there are no such serving personnel in the Permanent Defence Force.

The right of personnel who enlisted prior to the enactment of the Defence (Amendment) Act 1993 not to be detailed to serve on operations other than those operations which are of a police character, which was the provision in the 1960 Act, is retained in this Bill. However, such a saver will not apply with regard to the duties provided for in section 3, which I consider to be part and parcel of the existing duties of members of the Permanent Defence Force or, in the case of humanitarian operations, more akin to the provisions of the 1960 Act, for which all serving members are already liable.

Sections 5 to 7, inclusive, are technical amendments to extend provisions of the principal Act, the Defence Act 1954, to personnel despatched for service outside the State for any of the purposes outlined in section 3 of this Bill. The purpose of the provision in section 8 is to allow a force to be assembled and embarked prior to its deployment in theatre as part of an international United Nations force. In rapid response situations, including battle groups, where speed of deployment is of the essence, it will probably be necessary to have equipment containerised and despatched, together with personnel, while the UN Security Council resolution is being finalised. In addition, members or contingents of the Permanent Defence Force may have to assemble in the framework nation for the battle group, with their equipment, ready for despatch, in advance of the formal adoption of the UN resolution.

This provision is designed to cater for this eventuality and will be subject to the prior approval of the Government. However, the Defence Forces could not, and will not, deploy operationally before the formal adoption of the requisite Security Council resolution and the approval of Dáil Éireann. In the event that either was not forthcoming, the Defence Forces would be withdrawn forthwith.

Sections 9 and 10 provide for some technical and drafting amendments to the 1960 Act generally to reflect the provisions of section 3 of this Bill. Section 11 provides that this Bill will confer no authority on the State to become a member of an international organisation. Membership of international organisations is a matter for the Minister for Foreign Affairs and is subject to the relevant constitutional provisions, including Government authority.

Section 12 provides for the repeal of certain obsolete provisions in the 1954 and 1960 Acts and repeals, in full, the 1993 Act. The 1993 Act simply provided for an amendment to the definition of "International United Nations Force" contained in the 1960 Act. With the further amendment of the definition in this Bill the 1993 Act, with one proviso, no longer serves any purpose and hence its amendment.

The proviso I mentioned relates to section 13, which provides for an annual report to Dáil Éireann. This was a new provision introduced in the 1993 Act. With the repeal of the 1993 Act, it is necessary to re-enact the provision in this Bill. Sections 14 and 15 are standard provisions and are self-explanatory.

The provisions in this Bill maintain Ireland's traditional support for a multilateral approach, in particular through the United Nations, to the management and prevention of international crises and conflicts. The Bill also recognises, however, that these approaches are changing. There is a need for more capable and more rapidly deployable responses to crises as they emerge, and with that a need for military forces which are cohesive, professional and effective.

Training to increase our interoperability with other forces is key to this capability. Lives can be saved and crises, if not prevented, can at least be contained if we can respond rapidly to them. I accept that military force is usually not the answer but it can create the space and time for other actions to be taken, whether these be economic, political or diplomatic.

We may consider the fact that there is a need for military force unpalatable. We may choose to ignore that need. We may believe there are other and better ways to deal with conflict. That is usually the case but the fact remains that despite the ongoing efforts of the United Nations and other international organisations involved in conflict resolution, the threat to international peace and security unfortunately remains and the continuing need for troops for peace support operations has never been greater.

With the increasing demands around the world for peacekeepers, the UN has turned to regional organisations in the past few years, including the European Union, the African Union and NATO among others, to support its activities in the area of crisis management operations. In this regard, Ireland has contributed peacekeepers to many of these missions in furtherance of its commitment to the United Nations on both UN established and UN authorised missions.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Operation Artemis in the Congo, Ireland has participated in UN-authorised missions led by the European Union. In Kosovo and Afghanistan, Ireland participates in UN-authorised missions led by NATO, and we are currently providing personnel to an EU-led supporting mission to the African Union-led UN mission in Darfur in Sudan. In addition, the Government recently authorised the despatch of up to ten members of the Defence Forces for service with the EU military operation in support of MONUC, the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

ESDP is an integral part of the common foreign and security policy, which encompasses the EU's international obligations regarding the maintenance of international peace and security. Military capabilities are but one element among a wide range of instruments the EU can deploy in this regard, which include economic, political, administrative, rule of law etc.

Ireland's participation in such EU military operations, which are undertaken within the framework of the EU's European security and defence policy, is a continuation of our long and honourable tradition of support for multilateral arrangements in the maintenance of international peace and security. It in no way diminishes or undermines our commitment to the UN or to our policy of military neutrality.

I hope I have set out the requirement for this legislation and why it needs to be enacted. It is important to the ongoing training of the Defence Forces that they can undertake training overseas and learn from best practice in other countries. From a force protection perspective, particularly in multinational operations and rapid response battle group type operations, this international training requirement also extends to field exercises.

It is also important that we can respond rapidly in humanitarian situations where time is often of the essence and where military assets can play a significant and important role in support of civilian assets in the early stages of the disaster response. In crisis situations, rapid response by military forces can help dangerous situations from becoming catastrophes, and I am sure no Member of the Oireachtas would wish to see Ireland failing to play its part, as and when the need arises, in that regard.

We must put beyond doubt the authority to deploy personnel in the various other circumstances set out in section 3, duties which have for decades formed part of the international operations and duties expected of members of the Permanent Defence Force. I commend the Bill to Dáil Éireann and look forward to a constructive discussion.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Bill but I repeat that I regret the limited amount of time to debate it.

Every country and every government has responsibilities. Protecting the citizen, encouraging job creation, guarding the environment, providing education and strengthening stability are all key responsibilities that every good government should assume without question. Allied with these fundamental responsibilities at home, every country and every government has a clear responsibility to the international community. The saying, "no man is an island", can also be applied to the state. Isolationism, in clear sight of the challenges that face our world, is not an acceptable stance. As the interconnectedness of our world grows deeper, so too do our international responsibilities. When people are under threat, be it as a result of humanitarian disaster, political upheaval or pernicious disease, we have a responsibility to give assistance.

The people of Ireland have always had a keen sense of that responsibility to others. This was most notably exemplified in their outpouring of compassion to the countries, communities, and families so devastated by the tsunami in South-East Asia. For the people of Ireland, there was no question but that we, as part of the international community, had a responsibility to help those in crisis following this disaster.

For our part, Fine Gael recognises very clearly that different situations call for different types of assistance. While monetary aid is often critical in responding to a crisis, providing skilled volunteers to manage the aftermath of any disaster is also necessary. In addition, we must acknowledge that, in certain scenarios, military intervention and military protection is called for.

The need for a military response to alleviate human suffering, genocide and other crimes of war has been highlighted by the United Nations. Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, recognised that when he stated, "Sometimes you need to show force in order not to use it".

A cursory glance at some of the atrocities of our recent past shows that, in a number of cases, unstable situations have escalated into genocide and the loss of thousands of lives. We see that today in Darfur, where many thousands of people are being slaughtered while the so-called civilised world looks on. In these situations, the men, women and children threatened by violence can only be protected by a credible military response.

If we choose to send all the assistance we can to those affected by humanitarian disaster but refuse to act in other types of crisis situation, then we are differentiating between human suffering and human need in an unacceptable manner. Alongside our keen interest in extending financial and volunteer resources to countries in need, we must recognise that our Defence Forces have a key role in asserting the adherence to fundamental human rights, wherever those rights are challenged or attacked.

For this and other reasons, Fine Gael is very supportive of the development of EU battle groups. These stand-alone military forces, drawn from all EU member states, will have the capability to respond to crisis situations without delay so genocide and crimes of war can be prevented and human life protected.

The need for a speedy response in certain crisis situations has been seen time and again throughout history. The EU battle group concept means that when human life is threatened, we can offer those in fear for their lives more than simple words of support.

My principal point of concern, however, relates to the retention of the so-called triple lock mechanism, which dictates the manner in which Ireland may deploy troops overseas. Currently, the Defence Forces can only take part in military operations that are specifically endorsed by a UN resolution, approved by Dáil Éireann and agreed within the Government. Those three conditions make up the triple lock. It is clear that this triple lock system is excessively restrictive. For example, the Defence Forces could not take part in an EU peacekeeping force sent to Macedonia, even though this force replaced NATO forces in the region and had both EU and UN support. In the week that is in it, is worth mentioning the Celtic cross monument in Macedonia, I believe in Rebrovo, in honour of the losses suffered by the 10th Irish Division in the First World War. However, the Defence Forces could not take part in this mission because a formal UN resolution on the matter was vetoed by China as a protest against the recognition of Taiwan. This resulted in Ireland being debarred from participating in the EU-backed mission, which was requested by the President of Macedonia and which involved a total of 13 EU countries and 14 non-EU countries working together. Ireland had no role in this peacekeeping mission.

The Defence (Amendment) Bill 2006 again regrettably confirms the use of the triple lock and deals specifically with international United Nations forces which, according to the definition, are "sanctioned by a resolution of the Security Council or the General Assembly of the United Nations". Fine Gael believes that the triple lock should be reformed and that in deciding for ourselves whether to deploy a contingent of the Defence Forces on a mission overseas we should have regard to the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations, as set out in the Charter of the United Nations. In the circumstances it is necessary to read these into the record, as it is very important that our policy is not one of abandonment of the United Nations. Article 1 states:

The Purposes of the United Nations are:

1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;

2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;

3. To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and

4. To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.

Article 2 states:

The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles.

1. The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.

2. All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.

3. All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

4. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

5. All Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action.

6. The Organization shall ensure that states which are not Members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.

7. Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII.

Fine Gael believes that those principles are adequate to assist us in determining whether we should participate in any operation.

I would like clarification on the role of the General Assembly in these matters. According to Chapters 6 and 7 of the Charter of the United Nations, the Security Council has the primary role in deciding what action to take in matters of dispute and where international peace and security is threatened. Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations states:

1. The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.

2. The Security Council shall, when it deems necessary, call upon the parties to settle their dispute by such means.

Furthermore, Article 34 states:

The Security Council may investigate any dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute, in order to determine whether the continuance of the dispute or situation is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security.

In light of this, I would like to know the rationale behind the clear reference to the General Assembly within the legislation.

Given that the Security Council, the most powerful organ of the United Nations, has the lead responsibility in the determination of resolutions on matters of international security, we should not ignore the real difficulties that can arise when agreement on these resolutions is being sought. Resolutions are voted on by the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council. Resolutions can only be passed if nine or more members vote for the resolution, and if it is not voted against by any of the five permanent members. These members are the People's Republic of China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It is clear that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council may veto any resolution they choose, and this has already happened in the case of the veto applied by China on the resolution concerning Macedonia. While it was argued in the Seanad debate that this has happened only once, once is enough.

In the case of Ireland, where any deployment of our Defence Forces is inextricably linked to the deliberations of the United Nations, these permanent members hold a veto over our forces. Waiting for UN approval often means waiting for some internal security squabble between the permanent members of the UN Security Council to be resolved and may have little to do with the merits or demerits of any given resolution. This situation is unwise, unhealthy and unacceptable for any sovereign State.

While the triple lock has been of concern to Fine Gael for some time, there is a more pressing need for reform in this area in the context of the development of EU battle groups. These military groupings will place a high priority on readiness, which will involve joint training between the Defence Forces and the forces of other EU member states. These groupings may also be positioned outside the State in preparation for deployment and, as has already been outlined, the need for a speedy dispatch should a crisis arise is a key aspect of their development. By leaving the triple lock in place, Ireland could be left in the farcical situation where a contingent of our Defence Forces is already in position overseas, ready to begin its Government-supported mission, but our soldiers are unable to do anything other than sit on their hands due to wrangling at the United Nations.

Membership of the Nordic battle group, in which Ireland is taking part, will be drawn from a number of states. Since they are drawn from different states EU battle group formations must be highly co-operative. They must engage in joint training missions in readiness for any future missions. However, under the constraints of the triple lock, we may need to withdraw from any future battle group mission if the United Nations cannot reach agreement regarding a resolution. This could mean that Ireland would be obliged to renege on the commitment made to our European neighbours, who would be obliged to go on mission alone and without the assistance of the Defence Forces. This scenario would not arise if the Government had full sovereignty over the Defence Forces.

No man is an island, and no country can afford to be one either. The interdependence of our world means that we must be prepared to offer a wide variety of assistance to other states when needed. In some cases, this assistance must be of a military nature. As just one example, more than 400 Irish citizens, all members of the Defence Forces, are serving in the West-African country of Liberia. Ireland's Defence Forces were pivotal in the holding and transfer of the former Liberian leader, Charles Taylor. Members of the Defence Forces 94th Infantry Battalion Quick Reaction Force escorted Mr. Taylor from the capital Monrovia to the UN Special Court in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where he is wanted for war crimes. The mission in Liberia is one of the most challenging roles ever assumed by our Defence Forces, and their work has enhanced peace, security and stability in Liberia, a huge benefit to the people of that troubled State.

Fine Gael supports the role of the Defence Forces in their important work overseas and will support the Defence (Amendment) Bill 2006. However, we remain gravely concerned at the veto over our Defence Forces which has been given to five of the dominant players in global politics. Does anyone believe that China, the United Kingdom, France, the United States or the Russian Federation would accept an Irish veto over their military forces?

I ask the Minister to clarify, either now or on Committee Stage, the issue over the resolution of the Security Council or the General Assembly of the United Nations. I know the vote of the Security Council requires the support of nine of the 15 members, obviously including the five permanent members. I believe the General Assembly may have passed a resolution on the war in Korea. I seek clarification on why the General Assembly is mentioned.

I support the amendments made in section 1 to the definitions in the 1960 Act. Section 3 deals with the issue of personnel serving overseas, whether with the Partnership for Peace in Brussels or the UN in New York, and sets out the assistance we can provide in respect of humanitarian operations. The Minister for Foreign Affairs is advancing this concept and has raised the possibility of using military personnel and bases in that regard. However, humanitarian assistance operations would be more efficient if they were under the control of the Department of Defence. It is important that such operations are co-ordinated by the Defence Forces and the private sector so that expertise can be pooled. If some of the funds we provide for overseas assistance were diverted to these operations, people would see tangible fruits for their money.

Section 4 provides that members of the Permanent Defence Force who were appointed or enlisted prior to 1993 shall not be liable for service on overseas peace enforcement missions.

Sections 5 and 6 deal with the triple lock. Some commentators accuse Fine Gael of abandoning the UN. For historical reasons, Irish people take a positive attitude towards the UN, but the organisation is inefficient in many ways and needs to be reformed. I have personal experience of service with the UN on the frontline and in headquarters. People on the frontline do all the work and take all the risks but administrators have all the perks and seem to utilise most of the resources. For example, UNFICYP, which was established after the Turkish invasion of northern Cyprus in 1974, still has a section for missing persons, even though it has not located a missing person for the past 30 years. Some aspects of the UN simply defy logic. As regards the triple lock, if a Government of this State adheres to the fundamental principles of the UN, it will be as careful as the Security Council when getting involved in missions.

Deputy Gormley and I have described section 8 as an Irish solution to an Irish problem. Some people believe battle groups represent the militarisation of Europe. They claim we are losing our neutrality but I do not believe we were neutral in the first place. This Bill will help to save lives by increasing force efficiency. The concept of battle groups and regional forces arose from the failure of the UN to respond adequately to crises. In the past, the UN forces were static and contingents were not interoperable. Battle groups will allow for a more robust and efficient force.

I would like clarification on the legal advice with respect to allowing foreign troops to train in Ireland. When the Constitution refers to one Army in the State, it does not mean to refer to the training of foreign armies. In any case, foreign troops training in Ireland might not meet a certain definition of "army".

I welcome the Bill. While section 8 does not go as far as Fine Gael would like, it will help the Defence Forces to save lives by allowing them to respond more quickly to crises. I have reservations on the triple lock but hope we will eventually be mature enough to reconsider the issue.

The tabling of this Bill from 9.30 p.m. to midnight, with all Stages to be taken in the space of two and a half hours, is a scandal. This important legislation is being rushed through the Dáil. There is no break between any of the Stages to allow for periods of reflection, opportunities to tease out the implications of the various sections or debate the merits of Opposition amendments.

This is the only Bill tabled during the Minister's term of office. The last Defence (Amendment) Bill was tabled eight years ago in 1998. Defence Bills are not exactly growing on trees. It was disingenuous for the Minister to argue that the ordering of his legislation was not his responsibility. It is careless that he could not find more than two and a half hours on the midnight shift to process the Government's first defence legislation in eight years. It is careless in the extreme that he could not find more than two and a half hours in which to debate legislation as important as this. A midnight debate followed by a guillotine is no way to carry out the legislative business of this House. It is a cloak and dagger approach which raises suspicions about the good faith of the Government with regard to the Bill's provisions.

The central purpose of the Bill is to make new statutory provisions for the posting and deployment of Irish soldiers overseas. It extends the terms of the Defence (Amendment) Act 1960, which first made statutory provision for Irish soldiers to serve abroad under the auspices of the United Nations. The 1960 Act defined "United Nations Emergency Force" as "an international force established by the Security Council or the General Assembly of the United Nations for the performance of duties of a police character". The Defence (Amendment) Act 1993 repeated the definition but widened the remit of the operation by deleting "for the performance of duties of a police character". The Defence (Amendment) Bill before us substantially broadens the definition to include international United Nations forces which are not only "established" but also "authorised, endorsed, supported, approved or otherwise sanctioned by a resolution of the Security Council or the General Assembly of the United Nations".

In effect, the Minster has changed the legislation to reflect the criticism levelled by the Labour Party at the Government for deploying Irish troops abroad in situations where the United Nations had not established any international force or body. In his speech to the Seanad the Minister admitted as much by saying:

In Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Operation Artemis in the Congo, Ireland has participated in UN-authorised missions led by the European Union. In Kosovo and Afghanistan, Ireland participates in UN-authorised missions led by NATO and we are currently providing personnel to an EU-Ied supporting mission to the African Union-led UN mission in Darfur in Sudan.

None of these missions was established by the United Nations. The Minister admits as much in his opening speech on Second Stage:

With the increasing demands around the world for peacekeepers, the UN has turned to regional organisations in the past few years, including the European Union, the African Union and NATO among others, to support its activities in the area of crisis management operations. In this regard, Ireland has contributed peacekeepers to many of these missions in furtherance of its commitment to the United Nations on both UN established and UN authorised missions.

The legislation makes provision only for UN established missions. Clearly there is a distinction between the two. Much as we hate to say it, we were correct all along. The missions to which I referred were established variously by the EU, NATO and the African Union and authorised or endorsed by the UN. The correct language was not used in the 1960 Act.

Clearly there is a question mark about the legal status of Irish troops serving abroad on such missions. After 18 months of the Labour Party raising the issue the Minister has belatedly moved to close the loophole and provide legal certitude. The Minister has repeatedly denied there was any distinction between established missions and authorised missions and that he has successive Attorney Generals' advice to prove it. I have challenged the Minster to publish the advice of the Attorney General. So far, despite the Minister's commitment during Question Time to make it available if possible, it has not been received. I do not know if the Attorney General is willing to part with the advice but it must be in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. I welcome the Minister's rejection of the Attorney General's advice and his acceptance of our position. Hundreds of Irish soldiers now serving abroad will be relieved when the new definition becomes law and their mission is underpinned by legal certitude.

The second major section in this legislation also deals with a potential legal loophole. This Bill was tabled for debate in the Dáil three weeks ago. It was subsequently removed without explanation. Perhaps the Minister can explain why it disappeared from the Order Paper and appeared out of the blue in the Seanad. It will be debated for two hours in this House. The Minister explained his reason for urgent passage of the Defence (Amendment) Bill stating the advice of the Attorney General was that troops can only be despatched for overseas service as part of an international United Nations force, established or authorised by the UN Security Council. As such, existing Defence Forces staff postings in UN Headquarters, in the EU, in the OSCE etc. may have been open to question. In addition attendance at training courses, ceremonials, fact finding missions, equipment demonstrations, the provision of observers and monitors at OSCE and EU missions, even attendance at inter-military sporting events etc. could have been open to question. The advice stated that the major concern was the legitimacy of the substantive postings and the need to provide a firm legislative basis for these and that provision would be made for all these types of duties in the proposed urgent amending legislation.

Are any of our troops serving abroad with the correct legislation underpinning the mission? The Minister is belatedly riding to the rescue of our troops in a legal limbo, serving abroad in individual postings or seconded to international organisations. We do not know if they are legally entitled to be there. The provisions of section 3 are extended to cover the new areas of humanitarian tasks, natural disasters, as well as the new military training and exercises in the context of battle groups. The service abroad of these soldiers will be solely authorised by the Government of the day without authorisation of the Dáil or the United Nations. The nature of such external service requires some clarification.

It is particularly important that members of the Permanent Defence Force participating in this external service, without the triple lock, should be clearly designated as not being on active service. I have tabled an amendment to put this issue beyond doubt. It would also have the effect of ensuring our forces would not get involved in a situation of danger to themselves while posted abroad without the protection of the triple lock mechanism. They would not be on active service or armed. I would like assurances from the Minister in this regard.

The third major issue the Bill addresses is the procedure for deployment of the battle groups to the theatre of operation. Section 8, which deals with the issue, is quite confusing and needs considerable improvement. This will not be possible in the truncated debate in which we are engaged. Battle groups are rapid reaction forces that are specially trained and deployed quickly. However, the Irish requirement for prior approval by the Government, the Dáil and a resolution of the UN General Assembly or Security Council raises logistical and timing issues.

Section 8 attempts to deal with the gap between the need for urgent deployment and the triple lock time scale. It does not deal with it very well. It does not address the issue of the UN resolution waiting patiently for a decision by the General Assembly or the Security Council and how that might be expedited. It does, however, authorise the Government to despatch Irish troops for service outside the State as part of a force to be assembled or embarked before being deployed as part of a particular international United Nations force. Is it meant that Irish troops will be assembled in one of the battle group countries or assembled in an area separate from the theatre of operations? The section is not clear and the Minister should amend the legislation to clarify this.

The language in the second part of section 8 compounds the confusion by stating that "the contingent or member is not so deployed until a resolution under subsection (1) of this section has been passed by Dáil Éireann approving of their despatch for such service". It appears from the earlier part of section 8 that on the authority of the Government they have already been despatched for service outside the State as part of the assembly arrangements. Thus the second reference to despatch for such service involving Dáil and UN approval appears to suggest retrospective approval. The triple lock cannot be retrospective; otherwise it loses its validity and becomes meaningless. The Minister must make it absolutely clear that the assembly of troops is quite distinct from their deployment and that there is no overlapping of functions which are authorised solely by the Irish Government and those functions which are part of a mission approved by the Irish Government, Dáil Éireann and the United Nations.

From that point of view, this is unsatisfactory legislation. The Minister clarified the situation with regard to the deployment of battle groups and assembly. That should be in the legislation. He said:

In rapid response situations, including battle groups, where speed of deployment is of the essence, it will probably be necessary to have equipment containerised and despatched, together with personnel, while the UN Security Council resolution is being finalised. In addition, members or contingents of the Permanent Defence Force may have to assemble in the framework nation for the battle group, with their equipment, ready for despatch, in advance of the formal adoption of the UN resolution.

The legislation does not state that, it states that they will assemble, embark and be despatched. However, they could well be despatched to the theatre of operation or conflict. Nowhere in the legislation is it stated that they will be despatched to the framework nation. Why is it not stated? Are they to be despatched to Sweden, which is our framework nation? Our troops could partly assemble here in Ireland. Putting legislation through so rapidly generates these questions.

I welcome the Minister's later statement: "However, the Defence Forces could not, and will not, deploy operationally before the formal adoption of the requisite Security Council resolution and the approval of Dáil Éireann". That is wonderful but the provision in the legislation does not reflect that. The legislation must be distinct and clear but it is not.

The Minister has missed a golden opportunity to open a long awaited and long sought debate on the nature of Irish neutrality, the use of Shannon for military stopovers, overflights of the national territory, the Common Foreign and Security Policy and reform of the United Nations. Now we do not even get time to debate the narrow specifics of this legislation properly and adequately.

For the record, I will outline Labour Party policy as adopted in May 2003 at our annual conference. It states:

Conference is concerned at the diminution of Ireland's neutrality, particularly under Fianna Fáil dominated coalitions since 1997. Conference supports an active independent progressive foreign policy which upholds human rights, seeks to rectify international wrongs peacefully and opposes imperial domination by powerful countries and corporations. Conference understands the need to support the United Nations and to reform and develop it as a guarantor of peace, human rights and a new sustainable economic world order. Conference therefore resolves to campaign for the inclusion in the Irish Constitution of a clause setting out clearly that Ireland will not take part in military alliances or provide any assistance to activities of military alliances but is committed instead to maintaining peace and collective security by way of international law and support for a transformed United Nations.

I hope the Minister will respond to the key issues I have raised and give assurances, first, that the people who go abroad on postings that are authorised solely by the Government are doing so not on active service and, second, that there is a clear distinction between the despatch, assembly and embarkation of Irish forces to a framework nation and the deployment to the theatre of operations. There must be a distinction between the despatch and the deployment, which is subject to the triple lock.

It is disgraceful that there are only two and a quarter hours to debate this Bill. I only have six minutes to make my contribution on very important legislation, which represents a fundamental shift in Irish defence policy. This is not just tinkering with Irish defence policy, it is not just a technical Bill, its purpose is to change the essence of Ireland's triple lock mechanism and to destroy a cornerstone of what has become known as "Irish military neutrality". I do not like that phrase. I prefer to talk about our traditional foreign and defence policy.

Fianna Fáil has done more than any other party to undo our traditional foreign and defence policy. It has been extremely hypocritical about this. Recently, I attended a meeting in my constituency at which a Fianna Fáil candidate said he did not like talk about the undoing of Irish neutrality. He believes Ireland is as neutral as it ever was. This is nonsense when one looks at what is happening in Shannon. American troops travel through Shannon Airport and their commander-in-chief, George W. Bush addresses them there. American troops go through Ennis in uniform, which is a clear breach of Irish defence law, and nothing is done about it. Shannon is being used for renditions. The Fianna Fáil Party supports a European Arms Agency without any debate in the House.

This is the party that promised, when in opposition, a referendum on NATO's partnership for peace. We were subsequently told by the Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie Ahern, that the partnership for peace had nothing to do with NATO. That suggests that the man is out of touch with reality. When I asked the Minister for Defence in this Chamber about battle groups I was told that Ireland had made no commitment in that regard. Later, when it became clear that Ireland was to join a battle group, he said that the triple lock would remain intact. That is typical of Fianna Fáil — a wink and a nod, speaking out of both sides of one's mouth and being all things to all people.

Then there is the Fine Gael approach, which is probably more straightforward. The party has made no bones about its policy. It never liked the triple lock and supports increases in defence spending. The party has supported the WEU, an organisation that supported nuclear weapons, from the beginning. Fine Gael has been, for the most part, up-front. However, there is a problem when it refers to the UN. I vividly recall Deputy Gay Mitchell speaking in the House about the Iraq war and saying that he opposed the war because there was no UN mandate. It now appears that when the UN mandate becomes problematic, Fine Gael is quite prepared to ditch it.

I have certain expectations of the Labour Party, perhaps naively. As I listened to Deputy Costello give a half-hearted welcome to the Bill, I was reminded of the quote from the Book of Revelation which states: "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth". Deputy Costello implied that the triple lock remains intact. Has the Deputy lost his marbles or his scruples, or has he just bottled it because the Labour Party is now in thrall to Fine Gael?

We do not cry wolf.

How could anybody reading this legislation come to that conclusion? How can he say that the triple lock is the same? The 1960 Act has been amended beyond all recognition.

We have a proud record as UN peacekeepers and this has served us well. It has been implied that Members who are opposed to this legislation are somehow opposed to the Army intervening in any shape or form, but that is not true. The Green Party has endorsed and supported every peacekeeping mission authorised by this House. That is a fact.

My time is limited so I will proceed to the key question of the definition. Deputy Costello rightly said "established or authorised". We should look at the Seville declaration given to us by the Government at the time of the Nice treaty. It states that Ireland reiterates that the participation of contingents of the Irish Defence Forces in overseas operations, including those carried out under European security and defence policy, requires the authorisation of the operation by the Security Council or the General Assembly of the United Nations. It is clear we are going beyond authorisation or establishment. Once we get into wording like "endorsed, supported, approved or otherwise sanctioned" it becomes very woolly. The Minister knows that and it is deliberate. Can the Minister give one instance where we have been stopped from going on a mission because of this definition? Can I get one example of that?

The Minister is aware of my difficulties with section 3.

Is the Deputy sharing time?

Yes, I am sharing time with my two colleagues. Could the Ceann Comhairle tell me when I must stop?

The Chair's obligation is to tell the Deputy when the 20 minute slot is concluded. If it is any help, 13 minutes remain in the slot.

What happens under the various duties and tasks under this if Irish troops are fired upon? Should it not come back to the Dáil? I have tabled an amendment to that effect.

Section 8 is a dog's dinner. The Minister states we will assemble or embark in a framework country. If that is the case, why is it not stated in the legislation?

I did not say that.

The Minister did say that.

I said it will be usually within the framework country.

Why does the Minister not put it into the legislation?

The Deputy should stop misleading people and trying to create groundless fears.

The Minister said we will embark in a framework country.

I said "usually embark". The Deputy always leaves out the appropriate word.

Without doubt the ultimate purpose of this Bill is to allow the Defence Forces to join EU battle groups. EU battle groups are to be ready for deployment anywhere in the world within five days of an instruction from the European Council. EU battle groups do not require a UN mandate for their activities. Irish participation in battle groups, therefore, requires legislative change. Hence the Defence (Amendment) Bill 2006.

The public is dubious of any pretence on the part of this Government of a commitment to Irish neutrality. This Bill is being pushed through under the cover of night post haste. Sinn Féin has serious reservations about this legislation. We oppose the integration of the Defence Forces into EU battle groups, the effective elimination of the triple lock safeguards and the underhand manner by which this Bill will be passed at midnight.

Sinn Féin believes the UN must have primacy in international affairs above all other regional groups and organisations. The UN needs radical reform, particularly the veto system, which has been abused by the United States to prevent action against Israel. If the UN is further sidelined, however, as is proposed in this Bill, we will undoubtedly witness more illegal wars like that in Iraq and, by virtue of this Bill, Irish Defence Forces could be even more directly complicit in such wars. This eventuality would irreparably tarnish the proud record of the Defence Forces in international peacekeeping under the guise of the UN.

The Minister recently argued that entering EU battle groups is a way to enhance our commitment to the UN. In response to Deputy Ó Snodaigh's question on the State's existing commitment to the UN, he stated we offered to provide up to 850 personnel on overseas services and that this is the maximum sustainable commitment we can make to overseas peacekeeping operations. Each standing battle group, however, must have 1,500 combat soldiers, with an average rotation of seven to nine months for each soldier. Consequently there will be too few Irish personnel available for UN missions. The report of the Panel of the United Nations Peace Operations reinforces my concerns. It states that "the growth in European regional peacekeeping initiatives further depletes the pool of well-trained and well-equipped military contingents from developed countries to serve in UN-led operations".

The inevitable sidelining of the UN is to be accompanied by the promotion of NATO as a main player in global relations. A document from the Finnish Ministry of Defence states that in practice the battle groups will mostly be trained on NATO exercises. According to that document, the objective is to make the EU battle groups mutually supportive of and complementary to NATO and operational methods and procedures will be harmonised with their NATO counterparts.

Who does the Minister think he is fooling suggesting that EU battle groups would be better named "peace brigades" or speaking of them in convoluted terms such as "EU rapid response battle group concepts"? Battle groups do exactly what it says on the tin, they involve combat soldiers going into battle and they are equipped to do so. As Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the NATO Secretary General has said, battle groups could be used to go to war. Why did the EU create the battle groups? It was not just to help rebuild countries. They are not for building schools and we should not think the EU is for soft power while NATO is for tough power.

The Irish people wholeheartedly support the triple lock safeguards of our neutrality. This may be inferred without question from the Nice treaty referenda. The Government is now attempting to circumvent the triple lock with this legislation, particularly in sections 1, 3 and 8.

The Bill also introduces a form of secondary conscription. Until now members of the Defence Forces volunteered to undertake services overseas. This Bill removes the voluntary nature of such service by requiring it from members under orders.

We will oppose this Bill strenuously and I call on everyone here who has a conscience, particularly in the Labour Party, on Irish neutrality and sovereignty to oppose this Bill.

Did the triple lock advocate the murder of Jerry McCabe? Was there a UN resolution for that?

I oppose the Defence (Amendment) Bill because it facilitates the integration of the Irish Army into European Union battle groups and because I see it as another step in the drift from traditional Irish neutrality towards Irish participation in a militarised European Union super-state.

The important issue of Irish neutrality, and the increasing militarisation of the European Union, was the decisive issue in the defeat of the first referendum on the Nice treaty. The Government was then forced by public opinion to respond by introducing the triple lock mechanism to prevent the participation of Irish soldiers in foreign military operations unless those operations were clearly mandated by the UN and sanctioned by the Dáil and the Government. This was always simply a public relations exercise to reassure the Irish people on the neutrality and militarisation issues and so win support for the second Nice referendum. It has now clearly become expendable.

It would have been far preferable and would have shown genuine commitment on these issues had the Irish Government acted in a manner similar to the Danish Government and introduced a legally binding protocol to exclude Ireland from the whole process of militarisation of the EU. Instead, the Government joined the NATO-led Partnership for Peace and reneged on the commitment to hold a referendum on the issue. In 2004 it participated in the European Union Ministers' authorisation for the creation of the European Defence Agency, allied now to its Western European Armaments Group.

All of this is the context in which the Irish Army will be integrated into European Union battle groups. Any objective analysis of the military equipment will show that these battle groups are geared for war, not for rescuing people from humanitarian emergencies.

I support the Peace and Neutrality Alliance, which is organising in defence of Irish neutrality and against the militarisation process, the worst aspect of which is the use of Shannon Airport by the US occupation forces in their war on Iraq.

The Defence (Amendment) Bill 2006 represents the logical progression of an Irish Government which has consistently bent the knee to the interests of major imperialist powers around the globe since it came to power. While billions of ordinary people throughout the world understood that the excuse for the invasion of Iraq — that the country had weapons of mass destruction — was a monstrous lie, the Irish Government pretended to believe it and supported that criminal invasion. It continues to support the occupation of Iraq by the United States and Britain, which is an unmitigated disaster for the people of Iraq.

The formation of battle groups represents the latest instalment in the strategy of militarisation of the European Union. It is no secret that the key powers in the EU have consciously planned a military wing for a long time. Their rationale is quite straightforward. The expanded European Union is a major economic entity comprising a population of up to 500 million. A military wing is needed to complement this huge capitalist economic bloc. The militarisation also relates to the relationship with the biggest imperialist power in the world, the United States. The European Union sees itself sometimes an ally and sometimes a rival of the United States. In many ways, the EU establishment resents the diplomatic power the US wields throughout the world, deriving from its armed forces. The EU wishes to rival the US as a super power in certain critical areas of the world. Sometimes they will be in friendly co-operation, while also pushing the particular interests of the European Union when it comes into conflict with the United States. Undoubtedly, the national capitalist classes within the EU will at times break down in defence of their own national interests when this is necessary.

It is obscene that a new arms race is now apace in the modern era. The arms race formerly pitted the capitalist west against the Stalinist east, but now the European armaments industry is attempting to emulate the massive power of the United States in terms of armaments. What an obscenity it is that the huge resources of humanity are wasted on the creation of further weapons of mass destruction when they could be used to resolve humanitarian problems. I have heard the United Nations being put forward as an alternative in the debate and that easy line is repeatedly trotted out. What is the United Nations? Just look at four of the Security Council's permanent members: the United States, Britain, China and Russia. They are all countries that have walked with jackboots over any other nation or people when it suited their interests to do so. One has only to take Iraq, Chechnya and Tibet as examples. Other states in the UN General Assembly have governments that are not much better than brigands and thieves who routinely rob their own people. How can we say that the future peace of humanity lies with them?

The alternative is the working class and the poor of the world taking control of the resources of our planet and using them for the benefit of the majority, rather than being corralled by a tiny corrupt elite and the multinational corporations. Such a democratic socialist organisation of society would eliminate the obscene wastage of resources and apply them instead to resolving the problems of humanity.

Fianna Fáil, the Progressive Democrats, Fine Gael and Labour will apparently support this Bill. The Green Party opposes it but will that party make the repeal of this legislation a condition for entering Government with Fine Gael and Labour, if such an eventuality arises following next year's general election? The Green Party should let us know about that.

A good question.

The mood of working people within the EU is not towards the creation of battle groups and militarisation. That mood was captured in the massive protests against the Iraq invasion which mobilised millions of ordinary citizens throughout the EU. I assure the Minister and the Government that if the EU moves increasingly, as it intends to do, in the direction of militarisation, it will come up first and foremost against the opposition of its own people to any form of military adventures.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this important Bill. I fully support what is being put in place. It is a pity that we have to bash our friends in the United States of America so much here when they provide so many jobs in our country through investment. In 1955, it was great foresight on the part of a Fianna Fáil Government that brought Ireland into the United Nations. It was the foresight of the late Frank Aiken who was well known to you, a Cheann Comhairle. He was the driving force behind Ireland's membership of the United Nations.

Ireland joined the UN in 1955, and in 1960 we contributed a peacekeeping contingent to the Congo. Sadly, friends of mine were involved in an ambush there during which Trooper Patrick Mullins was killed. He served in the Congo but he has not been properly remembered since and the whereabouts of his remains are unknown. His family have not received the necessary co-operation from the Irish Army or the Department of Defence. No one knows the circumstances of his death. I am told, reliably or otherwise, that there was a error on the part of the people in charge when that ambush took place and Trooper Mullins lost his life. I am asking the Minister to set in train an investigation to discover the circumstances of his death and find where he is buried. The family should be notified of these matters. We have investigations and commissions into everything, but nothing has been done about this lone person from a working family in the Mitchelstown/Kilbeheny area. It is a sad business. On several occasions, his family have asked me to help. I have spoken to the Taoiseach on the matter and I am now asking the Minister for Defence to act immediately so that an investigation can take place. This man should receive the respect he deserves. The Army and Department of Defence should determine the circumstances of his death, discover where his body is buried and find out what happened on that occasion. Was it negligence? I cannot be sure whether the truck or the armoured car moved forward, leaving him behind or locked out, but that should be thoroughly investigated. It is sinful and shameful that such a thing should have happened to an honest, decent trooper who served his country in the peace mission to the Congo — one of the first peace missions of the Irish Army. It leaves a sour taste in the mouths of many people in my constituency. I am asking for an investigation to find out the circumstances of the death of Trooper Patrick Mullins in the Congo in September 1961. I well remember the Niemba ambush which occurred in November 1960. It was a horrific event also.

I fully support the efforts envisaged by this Bill. On occasions I have represented the Government as an observer at the Western European Union in Paris. Good work is being done by that organisation, especially in countries such as Bulgaria, Romania and Poland who are active in the WEU. As members of the European Union, we must walk and march in the right direction because we are benefiting from that organisation which has done so much good for Ireland since we became members. I fully support the Bill. In particular, I am asking that wherever Trooper Patrick Mullins is buried — God be good to him — the circumstances of the death of that gentleman must be put on the record. He should be honoured in a proper fashion.

I thank Members for the interest they have taken in this timely legislation. I appreciate their kind remarks concerning the work members of our Defence Forces undertake on overseas operations. Wherever they are our troops serve with professionalism, dedication, courage and unselfish humanity. Their commitment, service and loyalty to the traditions of the Defence Forces contribute extensively to the high regard in which Ireland is held throughout the international community.

In the five minutes allocated, I will not have time to cover all the points that have been raised during the debate. I am aware of the case raised by Deputy Ned O'Keeffe and I am already examining it. I am conducting some investigations into the case and I will be in touch with the Deputy shortly concerning the matter.

Deputy Timmins made the usual predictable speech about the triple lock. I cannot get my head around this. Deputy Timmins argued that the triple lock was excessive and that it is restricting and restraining us. Deputy Gormley says the triple lock has disappeared completely. Between the two of them I cannot figure it out. The maintenance of the triple lock as a traditional form is Government policy and will remain Government policy.

Deputy Timmins asked about the General Assembly. Under the 1960 Act, a decision by the United Nations to endorse a peace support operation can be taken either by the Security Council or the General Assembly. As I understand it, the practice has developed since the time of the Korean War that it is always endorsed by the Security Council and the General Assembly never seems to pass a resolution. I am informed that there is a debate within the United Nations whether the General Assembly can authorise the dispatch of an international peace force. Invariably it is endorsed by the Security Council.

Deputy Timmins has argued that the triple lock results in our abdicating our sovereignty to China or one of the other members of the Security Council with a permanent veto. That is not the case. The triple lock is a deliberate policy of the Government so that it is an exercise in sovereignty, not an abdication of sovereignty. We as a sovereign Government decide that we will not dispatch troops abroad without the sanction of the United Nations. That is an example of an exercise of sovereignty rather than the opposite which he argued would be an abdication of sovereignty.

Deputy Costello raised a number of interesting technical points. He accused me of organising the timing of the Bill. That is not true. I did not have anything to do with the timing of the Bill or the time arrangement.

I did not accuse the Minister.

He raised again the old question of established and authorised. I gave a commitment in the House in reply to oral parliamentary questions that I would publish the advice of the Attorney General if I could. To publish the advice which the Government gets from the Attorney General, one must get the permission of the Attorney General. So far I have not got that permission. However, I can say that the Attorney General who gave that advice was the Attorney General in the Labour-Fine Gael Government, Dermot Gleeson, a very eminent lawyer, whose advice I would hesitate to dispute. His advice was that the word "established" in the Defence Act 1960 includes "authorised". A force established by the United Nations enables us to participate in a force put together by somebody else at the request or with the authorisation of the United Nations. That was his clear legal advice.

Deputy Costello asked also whether people going abroad under section 3 on ceremonial duties, training, reconnaissance and so on would be on active service. My advice is that they are not on active service. If a person is being put on active service which involves certain consequences, that must be done specifically by way of legislation. I am advised that people going abroad as part of an international peace force are on active service because they are specifically deemed to be on active service by the 1960 Act. Section 5 of the Defence Act——

Is it the legal advice that the people going abroad under section 3 are not on active service?

They are not on active service. That is the legal advice and position. Nobody is on active service unless they are deemed to be so by legislation which sets out the circumstances thereof and establishes the categories of people deemed to be on active service. It does not include the category cited by the Deputy. I repeat that people abroad, under any of the headings of section 3, are not on active service.

They are for protection purposes.

The time has concluded. Please allow the Minister to conclude without interruption.

Not necessarily. That depends on the host state. It may, in certain circumstances, give people the permission to carry side arms or arms for their own protection, but they are not on active service. People going abroad——

However——

The Minister's time has concluded.

They are on the——

I am going to put the question. I will give the Minister a few minutes to conclude if he is allowed to conclude, but one more interruption and I will put the question.

On the question raised by Deputy Costello on section 8 we spoke informally earlier. I have checked it out. I will get the advice in writing and forward it to the Deputy. Under section 8, the resolution of the Dáil will be to ratify the actual deployment into active service, as it were. There will be no resolution of the Dáil to ratify the initial embarkation. It is not the intention to do that retrospectively. The resolution of the Dáil will only apply to deploying troops into theatre which will only happen when the United Nations resolution is forthcoming. Deputy Higgins said that——

The troops——

We will conclude and the issues can be aired on Committee Stage.

I asked two questions.

I do not care. The order of today is that I must put the question now.

The Ceann Comhairle said he would allow the Minister to conclude.

Yes, if there were no interruptions, but there were interruptions.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 99; Níl, 12.

  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Breen, James.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brennan, Seamus.
  • Browne, John.
  • Callanan, Joe.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Carty, John.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Curran, John.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Tony.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Glennon, Jim.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McHugh, Paddy.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Donnell, Liz.
  • O’Donoghue, John.
  • O’Donovan, Denis.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Keeffe, Ned.
  • O’Malley, Fiona.
  • O’Malley, Tim.
  • Parlon, Tom.
  • Perry, John.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Sexton, Mae.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Gormley and Crowe.
Question declared carried.